Camp Alkulana was started in 1915 by the Richmond City Circle, the precursor to today’s Richmond Woman’s Missionary Union. These women were inspired by a call to “definite personal service,” in other words, they wanted to do meaningful Christian ministry with their neighbors in Richmond. Under the leadership of the camp’s first director, Nannie West, Camp Alkulana offered a summer camp experience to children from Richmond who would not otherwise be able to afford it. In 1915, most of the children who attended lived in Richmond’s East End and had parents who worked in the city’s factories, or even worked there themselves. Originally the camp served only girls, but expanded to include boys in the late 1940s.
Camp Alkulana has been in continuous operation since it began in 1915, which makes it the oldest camp in Virginia. The kerosene lanterns, which shone from the windows of the first cottage, appeared as bright eyes shining through the forest. Thus, the word, “Alkulana,” meaning “bright eyes” became the official camp name.
Though the camp’s first grounds were in Elmont, just north of Richmond, the camp moved to its current location in Millboro Springs in 1917. There, deep in the Alleghenies, campers gained access to the boundless space and endless program resources provided by the George Washington National Forest. Cave exploring, hiking, and swimming have been popular Alkulana activities since our very first summers spent in Bath County.
Today, the camp continues to offer an affordable summer camp experience to Richmond area children, focusing on those that are eligible for free and reduced lunch at school. Throughout the year, Alkulana offers ongoing supports in Richmond to its campers through large group gatherings, a mentoring program for older campers, and a targeted leadership program for its junior counselors.
Camp Alkulana is a ministry of the River City Faith Network, which also hosts three ministry centers in the city: South Richmond Baptist Center, Church Hill Christian Wellness Center, and Oregon Hill Center. Our primary partners are Richmond Baptist churches, camp alumni, and other individuals.